Art & law Careers

The History of Art, York Law School and Careers recently held a panel event exploring how Art and Law interlink. Case studies on issues such as whether owning an art work gives you the right to destroy it and questions concerning artistic identity and authorship were discussed. A panel discussion on career areas relating to both these disciplines and how to make yourself more employable followed.

Key advice for working in art related legal areas:

  • Try to get exposure of both worlds; gaining work experience in a legal setting as well as a gallery/museum. (See for help finding relevant experience).
  • Keep up to date with key issues by reading journals like Museums Journal and Arts      Professional. (Available in hard copy at the Careers Centre or online,
  • Consider potential employers, this is a niche area so you can’t train specifically as an “Art Lawyer”- it’s likely you would specialise in property, intellectual property, copyright or tax law and then work in a law firm who has art related clients (like museums/galleries/private investors). A starting point for this could be to look at law firms affiliated with the Institute for Art and Law:
  • Other potential employers to explore: in-house legal departments of the larger museums and galleries, legal departments in auction houses, bodies like Arts Council England, English Heritage and National Trust.

Other career ideas:

If you like the idea of combining an interest in both art history and law/business, consider the following:

Art Insurance– there are specialist companies who work specifically with private collectors, museums, galleries, local authorities or commercial companies. Some examples:

Policy making and Arts funding– organisations that implement (and potentially influence) government policy, make decisions on funding applications from museums, galleries and artists. Some examples:

Repatriation/Fraud investigation/Security –private companies, government bodies, local and national law enforcement organisations help advise on crime prevention, investigate art crime and research repatriation issues. Some examples:


One thought on “Art & law Careers

  1. I never thought about this issue before, I just assumed that people who purchase works of art purchase it with the intention of preserving it as well. I really don’t think they have the right to destroy a work of art, but it is after all their possession

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